Getty Images

Christopher Bell’s first laps in Xfinity car a ‘dream come true’

Leave a comment

CONCORD, N.C – The No. 18 has a long, storied history with Joe Gibbs Racing, dating back to the team’s first win in the 1993 Daytona 500.

The numeral has been associated with champions Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte and Kyle Busch. But for about seven hours Tuesday, the number belonged to Christopher Bell.

The 22-year-old driver made his first laps in a Xfinity Series car as part of a series test at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The 2016 Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year called the experience of driving for JGR “a dream come true.”

As part of a joint test day with the Truck Series, Bell’s first spin in the car took place a day after the team announced he would drive in seven Xfinity races this year, beginning May 27 at Charlotte.

“I’d never would have foreseen myself running in the Xfinity Series,” Bell told NBC Sports and the Performance Motorsports Network shortly after exiting the car after a run. “So to be able to do it for Joe Gibbs is very special.”

In the morning session of the seven-hour test, Bell logged 71 laps around the 1.5-mile track. The only other driver to complete more was rookie Cole Custer with 83. Bell was 15th fastest at 180.747 mph.

“It reminds me more of the Super Late Model stuff, I think that’s the biggest difference,” said Bell of his first impressions of the Xfinity car compared to the Truck Series. “They’re a lot more lively, a lot more responsive than the trucks. It’s going to take some getting used to.”

Bell has three wins in the Truck Series, including last March at Atlanta. Last season he made the championship four and was the only driver in it born after 1980.

The Oklahoma native said his time in the car Tuesday was about “having fun” and “getting laps.”

“Obviously, JGR is one of the best teams around,” Bell said. “As far as car-wise, I don’t think there’s too much to learn out here. It’s just me getting the hang of it.”

NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 79: Jason Weigandt on Supercross, Monster and Jimmie Johnson

Leave a comment

Motocross journalist and broadcaster Jason Weigandt joined the NASCAR on NBC podcast to discuss the Supercross finale and the start of Outdoor season.

Weigandt, the editor of Racer X online magazine, also discussed how Monster Energy’s new title sponsorship of NASCAR has been perceived in Supercross, which the company has backed since 2008, and why he believes Jimmie Johnson isn’t NASCAR’s most popular driver despite his success.

Weigandt is the play-by-play announcer for the 2017 motocross season, which will be shown on NBCSN as well as on the NBC Sports Gold package (which will offer all motos, qualifiers and practices for the 12-round season as well as on-demand access to the past two seasons).

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone.

It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Google Play, Spotify and a host of other smartphone apps.

 

NASCAR America: 50 States in 50 Shows: North Dakota

Leave a comment

Today’s edition of “50 States in 50 Shows” profiles Nodak Speedway in Minot, North Dakota.

The 3/8-mile dirt track is located 110 miles north of Bismarck and is located on the grounds of the North Dakota State Fair.

Watch the video for the full look Nodak Speedway.

 

NASCAR America: Austin Dillon: Feels good to beat Jimmie Johnson in ‘chess match’

Leave a comment

Following the first win of his NASCAR Cup Series career, Austin Dillon said he was proud of his team for coming out on top in a “chess match” against Jimmie Johnson.

“We’re chasing down what I consider ‘The GOAT’ (Greatest of All Time),” Dillon told NBC Sports’ Dave Burns. “Jimmie’s tied with the best of the best. To beat him in a little chess match there at the end, it feels real good. At a track I’ve seen him win multiple races sitting in the stands.”

Dillon was able to make his last tank of gas stretch 70 laps, two more than Johnson, on his way to winning the Coca-Cola 600.

The win comes at a track Dillon has competed on since the early days of his career.

“I grew up racing in the 1/5-mile here, Bandeleros and Legends cars, to get my first win here, there’s nothing better,” Dillon said.

Watch the video for the full interview and to hear Richard Childress’ thoughts on the win.

Something finally goes right for Erik Jones in first Coca-Cola 600

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Image
Leave a comment

CONCORD, N.C. — For the first time since March, fortune finally bounced in Erik Jones‘ favor.

That was after a piece of debris bounced through his grille.

On Lap 20 of the Coca-Cola 600, debris from a wreck between Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski littered the frontstretch of Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Jones, running in the top 10, managed to avoid the wreck itself. But the rookie couldn’t avoid whatever caused a football-sized hole in the nose of his No. 77 Toyota.

“You start the day off like that and you’re like, ‘Man, it’s not going to be easy,'” said Jones, who finished a career best seventh. “That kind of hurt us all day, I think. Not a ton. Obviously we had still had a fast car, but it was definitely slowing us down some.”

Competing in the longest race of his career to date, the episode looked like the latest in a series of misfortunes that have plagued the driver, who turns 21 on Tuesday.

Jones entered the race with two DNFs in the last three points races and three DNFs if you counted the previous weekend’s All-Star Race.

Before the All-Star Race, Jones caused three cautions at Kansas Speedway for spins before finishing 22nd. He wrecked out at Talladega in a big crash and the week before that was eliminated at Richmond when the race was five laps old.

Entering the longest race of the year, Jones had just one top-10 finish, eighth at Phoenix.

Following the accident Sunday, Jones restarted 27th. The rest of the night was “smooth” on the way to his best finish in 15 Cup starts.

“I think we had a top-five car,” Jones said. “Kind of missed on a couple of adjustments at the end, got behind on the racecar a little bit. Just kind of fell back at the end.”

By the halfway point at Lap 200 and after a 1 hour and 39 minute rain delay, he was in eighth. During the 400-lap race, his average running spot was 11.8.

“We didn’t have any troubles in the pits,” Jones said. “We didn’t have any troubles on the track (after the Lap 20 accident), we had a pretty good car all night. So it was just nice to have a solid night. I feel like we’re plenty capable of running in the top 10 every week, we just got to keep having days and night like this.”

Jones is now 18th in the points standings and 10 points ahead of fellow rookie Daniel Suarez.

 and on Facebook